Last week, Music Feeds reported on a TV series based on the career of The Beatles that is currently in the early stages of development at US network NBC. However, it’s now been revealed that production could be hampered by the fact that NBC does not have rights to the band’s music.
According to Billboard, NBC’s eight-part mini-series, which is being developed by the same team as Showtime’s acclaimed period drama The Tudors, has two primary challenges to overcome: one being the lack of music rights, and the other a competing project over at Sony Pictures Television.
“About six months ago, we were working… on a show centred around the journey of the Beatles, and at one point we were talking about working with Baz Luhrmann,” said Marty Bandier, CEO of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, who own all but six of the Lennon–McCartney Beatles compositions.
“We hadn’t taken the next step, which is to reach out to the Beatles. The proposal is still on the table.” Bandier said he has long been pursuing a Beatles TV series with the intention of running it on a pay cable outlet like HBO or Showtime. He noted that Sony have not been approached by NBC.
A source also claims that NBC have not secured the likeness rights to the band members. “NBC couldn’t produce a show without the songs, and we can’t produce a show without approaching the Beatles for their likeness rights,” Bandier told Billboard. While Sony Pictures Television have declined to comment, executives familiar with the NBC project say news of the series was premature.
Despite their status as arguably the most popular band in history, there have been relatively few attempts to bring the group’s story to the screen as a drama, with none allowed use of the band’s original catalogue. A biopic of the band’s manager Brian Epstein titled The Fifth Beatle was announced late last year and is the first Beatles feature to be granted use of the band’s music.